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December 11, 2008
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Strongbow celebrates a decade in festivals




This year saw Strongbow celebrating a decade of involvement in the festival scene. Pete Roythorne talked to Rory Sloan from RPM – Strongbow's agency partner for the past 10 years – about how this events has developed and how successful it has been.

This year saw Strongbow celebrate it’s 10th consecutive year of involvement in festivals through sponsorship and experiential activity, making the brand one of the longest term players in what is now the ubiquitous brands/festivals scene.

Strongbow’s relationship with the festivals circuit has seen it evolve from four events in 1999, delivering 35,000 samples and 25,000 sales, to three events delivering 69,000 samples and 61,000 sales in 2008, with a boom year in 2005 – when cider was reaching the peak of its revival – that saw the brand at 10 events delivering over 500,000 samples and over 115,000 sales. In 2001, Strongbow even spread its wings to Ibiza where the event delivered over 180,000 samples. In total Strongbow’s presence at events has allowed the brand to deliver almost three million samples and 800,000 sales across 64 events over this period.

 


Strong presence: Strongbow's iconic tents have
become a regular of the festival scene



During this time, the cider brand has seen its presence at festivals morph from the Strongbow Rooms, to the Strongbow Cider House in 2006, to this year’s Bowtime Bar – all in keeping with its above-the-line messaging. But throughout this time the trademark yellow peaked tents have been a regular feature on the festival circuit and the venue has become known for its atmosphere and entertainment, staging great bands and DJs.

One consistent theme throughout the past decade of Strongbow’s festival involvement has been experiential agency RPM, which has been working with the brand on its festival activities since the beginning. RPM has ensured that the brand’s activities have grown with the times to reflect the increasing sophistication of experiential activity.

Moving with the times
“The first year established credibility with promoters and audience,” explains RPM’s head of production, Rory Sloan. “The second year saw the introduction of mobile sampling teams, live DJs, increased use of PR and touch screen data capture. Then in 2001 we launched a dedicated website. Since then we have introduced interactive mobile technology to enhance and add value to consumers’ festival experience; the delivery of branded content to consumers – such as personalised photos – post-festival to deepen the brand’s relationship with the consumer; and the whole campaign is now underpinned by a range of social media to allow Strongbow to continue to engage with its audience throughout the year not just during the events themselves.

Sloan continues: “While we have consistently helped the brand to develop its festival presence over the past decade, the basic concept remains the same; persuading people they are going to have a good time doing the activities you are offering. The Strongbow tent has become something of a land mark at festivals, the striking yellow structure has had the added benefit of making it easily recognisable meeting place.”

Every year, the question arises as to whether the festival scene has finally had it’s day as a viable media. By consistently investing in a ongoing festivals activity programme, Strongbow has shown that building relevance and successful festival activity takes time, but is worth the investment; Strongbow has now become an intrinsic part of the experience of many festivals. Long may it continue.


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